The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.Visit the main SOT page.

Main building at UNCG, 1893
Gove, Anna M. (Anna Maria), 1867-1948 / UA2.1 Charles Duncan McIver Records, 1855-1906

The institution that would become the University of North Carolina at Greensboro opened its doors in 1892 to 198 young women. Today more than 20,000 students attend class, conduct research, play sports and live in 30 residence halls on a 210-acre campus. 

Robert Shetterly and 'Americans Who Tell the Truth'

Ella Baker spent decades fighting for civil rights and promoting grassroots activism. 

The music for the live program in Greensboro was written and performed by Carmen Bliss. The Greensboro-based singer-songwriter combines rhythm and blues compositions with lyrical narratives. Listen to her perform the song "Around" below.

 

 

Kenneth Wainstein, lead investigator into academic irregularities at UNC Chapel Hill, holds a copy of his findings following a special joint meeting of the UNC Board of Governors.
Gerry Broome / AP Photo

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s accreditor is looking into recently disclosed statements made by the university to the NCAA. 

Child at computer.
Kevin Jarrett / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/igWhB9

Thousands of North Carolina students attend virtual charter schools. The program began in 2015 as a pilot project, and the flexible format is a boon for students pursuing some professional careers, like athletics. 

John Carroll Whitener
Courtesy of John Carroll Whitener

 John Carroll Whitener could have easily avoided being drafted into the Vietnam War. He could have truthfully checked the box marked “yes” on the military form that asked new recruits if they had homosexual tendencies. But doing so would have meant admitting a truth he was not ready to accept and facing the consequences of a future that did not include his family and church.

Vi Lyles
Skip Foreman / AP Photo

Democrats claimed big wins across the country in this week’s elections. Meanwhile, a series of mayoral races took place in North Carolina. 

Cover of Hue 1968
Courtesy of Mark Bowden / Atlantic Monthly Press/2017

Almost 50 years after the epic battle that changed the course of the Vietnam War, author Mark Bowden visited the city of Hue to piece together what happened. 

Zen Reyes, aka ZenSoFly
Courtesy of Zen Reyes / ZenSoFly

Growing up, Zen Reyes thought she would establish a career in the fashion industry. She spent some time studying fashion in New York City and figured she might become a designer one day. But eventually a different passion came calling and Reyes began producing and recording her own music under the name ZenSoFly. 

Givenchy by Alexander McQueen, evening gown
Courtesy of NC Art Museum

In 1958, African-American women donned designer dresses and walked the runway for the first Ebony Fashion Fair. 

The charity fashion show was the brainchild of Ebony Magazine co-publisher Eunice Johnson and it showed African-American women as rich and successful. The fair ran for 50 years, and in that time it continued to be a space where African-American women could re-imagine their role in American society and reclaim their beauty.

Pharmaceutical and medical device companies continue to try to gain influence with medical providers.
AP

North Carolina's doctor offices are awash in pharmaceutical and medical device industry cash. These financial relationships are starting to raise questions about prescribing habits and other conflicts of interest.

Already, some large pharmaceutical companies have paid millions to settle allegations of kickback schemes, and watchdog groups are asking questions about deep relationships between some doctors and drug and medical device companies.

Courtesy of Indigo Cox

Indigo Cox read many excellent academic books on women's reproductive health. But as a physician herself, and one who performs abortions, she wanted a book that told a story from both sides. 

One of the handmade whirligigs at the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park
Courtesy of Henry Walston / Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park and Museum

When Vollis Simpson began constructing his mammoth whirligigs out of spare machine parts, old paint and highway signs, he did not set out to create an artistic legacy. 

John Cleese
Courtesy of DPAC / DPAC

John Cleese is undoubtedly a comedy legend. Among his many credits: he is a founding-member of Monty Python, co-creator and star of the sitcom “Fawlty Towers,” and he wrote and co-starred in the film “A Fish Called Wanda.” Cleese recently toured the U.S. and Canada with his one man show “Last Time To See Me Before I Die.” 

Khizr Khan, father of fallen US Army Capt. Humayun S. M. Khan speaks as his wife Ghazala listens during the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia , Thursday, July 28, 2016.
J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

 Khizr Khan stepped onstage and into the public eye at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. He says he was compelled to talk after then candidate Donald Trump proposed a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. 

David Jay Photography

For many years U.S. Navy Officer Jerri Bell swallowed the story that when it came to military service, women were only involved in support roles. It was not until she started researching for a book on women’s military history that she realized the common narrative was false: women had been actively involved in combat since the American revolution. 

Courtesy of Gabrielle Calvocoressi

Poet Gabrielle Calvocoressi has become less and less comfortable viewing the world through the prisms of sex or gender. 

Andrew Harnik / AP Photo

Robert Mueller’s team handed down their first indictments this week in the ongoing investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. Former Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort and Rick Gates turned themselves into the FBI and pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Meanwhile Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives released their tax bill Thursday with hopes to pass it through before the end of year. And federal judges reviewing North Carolina’s legislative district maps have ordered an independent “special master” to draw new lines.

Pixelbay

With the advent of modern DNA tests, people can now find out their genetic makeup within days. For many the tests can help strengthen a sense of heritage and ancestry. But according to indigenous scholar Kim TallBear, a specialist in racial politics in science, the results of a DNA test do not give people a license to adopt or claim membership to a Native American community.

 

Soho Artists

Yasmin Levy is an acclaimed Israeli artist known for her twist on Sephardic songs. The musical tradition came from her father who recorded and preserved folk songs in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language that emerged in the territories of the ancient Ottoman Empire after Jews were exiled from Spain in 1492.

Cape Fear River, NC, at Raven Rock Park
Blipperman / Wikimedia Commons

This week Brunswick County filed a lawsuit against Chemours and DuPont for their involvement in discharging the contaminant GenX into the Cape Fear River. The lawsuit is seeking to recover the costs to the county for investigating, managing, reducing and removing the chemical.

It is one of several lawsuits against Chemours and DuPont. Last week a Leland resident filed a class action lawsuit against the two companies after she discovered GenX in her water heater.

Senior Airman Brittain Crolley / U.S. Air Force

 

The U.S. Senate has backed away from a proposal to close military bases for now, but that is not stopping some communities from planning ahead for the next round of cuts.

In Goldsboro, organizations and civic leaders are teaming up with the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to improve the base’s facilities and increase engagement with the community. The partnership is a part of strategy to improve relations with the military and bolster the efficiency of the base.
 

Ft Bragg Stories A mixed 'chalk' of U.S. and British paratroopers line up to board a C-130 transport plane for the main jump of the joint exercise.
Jay Price / North Carolina Public Radio - WUNC

North Carolina is home to the largest U.S. military installation in the world by population. It employs more than 50,000 military and close to 30,000 civilians and contributes tens of billions of dollars to the state’s economy.

Donald Trump speaking at CPAC in 2011
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - Creative Commons - https://flic.kr/p/EPd159

Open enrollment for health plans under the Affordable Care Act begins today.

John Coltrane
Nakadaira

John Coltrane is widely recognized as one of the most iconic and influential jazz musicians of all time. His work as a saxophonist and composer is known to the world, and it all started in North Carolina.

Courtesy of The Monti

Science and religion are often pitted against one another as opposing forces. While science is defined by clear methodologies and peer-reviewed findings, religion is at once abstract and highly personal. Yet whether or not someone is a highly-devout Hindu priest or a Nobel Prize-winning neuroscientist, both are wielding tools in search of greater understanding. 

Music Maker Relief Foundation

Ron Hunter was born and raised in a log cabin on a sharecropping farm in the countryside near Winston-Salem, North Carolina. As a kid he wanted to be a cowboy. He often donned a cowboy hat and practiced country-western songs while riding a make-believe horse. Later in life Hunter found a deep connection with the stories he can tell through the blues, and he gained recognition for his unique style.

PONCE, PUERTO RICO -  North Carolina National Guard SSG Joe Rodriguez carries donated water and MRE's for Nani Soto in a distribution center in a sports arena in the Southern town of Ponce, the 2nd largest city in Puerto Rico, on October 20, 2017.
Angel Valentin / For WUNC

It has been more than five weeks since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. Close to three-quarters of residents on the island are still without power. Many also still do not have access to food or safe drinking water. 

woman wearing Virtual Reality glasses
Nan Palmero / Flickr - Creative Commons -https://flic.kr/p/qJPZEL

For years North Carolina has been one of the fastest-growing states in the nation. This growth has had a profound impact on the state’s environment, government and economy. 

Image of Pat Mother Blues Cohen
Courtesy of Pat Cohen

Pat “Mother Blues” Cohen started singing blues tunes as a young girl to entertain her parents’ friends at their home in Edison, New Jersey. She later worked for years in the casino industry and won casino talent competitions so often that she was banned from participating. 

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